The Brothers Grimm: An Interview with Monica Bellucci
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The Brothers Grimm: An Interview with Monica Bellucci
By Wilson MoralesBeauty can only get you so far in this business, but if you can manage to work it along with your acting abilities, then there's no end in sight. That seems to be the case for Italian actress Monica Bellucci. Since she made a splash with "Malena", she's been sought by a lot of producers to bring in some spice to their films. Bellucci has done both domestic and international films to a satisfying degree and the roles keep growing. From Tears of the Sun" with Bruce Willis to the second and third Matrix films with Keanu Reeves, Bellucci has certainly had some eye-popping roles to date. Coming out on August 26, Bellucci will be starring along with Matt Damon and Heath Ledger in "The Brothers Grimm", in which she plays Mirror Queen. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Bellucci talks about working with Director Terry Gilliam and working with Matt and Heath.
DID YOU READ THE BROTHERS' GRIMM TALES GROWING UP?
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITES?
BELLUCCI: "Sleeping Beauty," because of the prince. All women are looking for a prince, you know. I love the movie of course, I wanted to be - I mean, for me, I'm so really happy that I had the chance to work with Terry Gilliam. Terry Gilliam is so loved in Europe, also here in America, but in Europe he's just considered a genius because of those incredible movies like '12 Monkeys' and especially 'Baron Munchausen' and 'Brazil.' And I loved this script, because there are so many references to all of the Grimm fairy tales, like Sleeping Beauty, that I love. Hansel and Gretel, and it's like all these fairy tales came together to make a new tale, which is a combination of fantasy and fear, and because of that, you can recognize (Can't hear this). And of course, I love the character. To play the character, an evil queen. She's on the search for immortality, but unfortunately for her, forgets to ask for eternal youth, and so the shape she's in, when she's five hundred years old, and she's just horrible, but in the mirror as you see she's always young and beautiful and through that image, she can make slaves of the men who look at her reflection. And if she needs the blood of 12 virgins to become young and beautiful like her image in the mirror, she needs the men to kill this person for the youth. So that's why I like fairy tales, because I think that if you have fairy tales, it's always a good meaning. And in this story, I think that there is a metaphor that touches anyone who believes in their image, anyone that believes that their image is who they are, and when the image or the myth is destroyed, the person gets destroyed along with it. So I think it's the perfect movie for all of us, but especially for actors, because we are the first victims of vanity.
WHAT WAS THE MAKE UP PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU?
BELLUCCI: It was huge. Actually, the character was interesting to play because of the dual characters, the young queen, the old queen, and I had to play double voices. And actually in the beginning, Terry didn't think about that, it was like, maybe I'm going to use an old voice for real, and then I said no, because I think so important I do the voice of the old queen because the soul is going to be the same. And so we tried, so many different things, and in the end it worked, so it was beautiful, and I was very happy to do both the voices. And the make up of course was big work, but in the end, when I see the movie, I have to say I was very surprised, because even though I knew the script, when I saw the final work I said oh my God, it's so huge to see what's going on, so I said even though it was so hard, all this make up, now I'm happy that I've done it, because all the transformations, to the old queen, to the young queen. And I said, you guys are on the screen for two minutes maybe, but I said it doesn't matter, because you have so much to do, the project is so full, you have so much to play, and it was just an incredible experience, and when I saw the movie I said I'm very happy to be in this movie. Then I don't know what is going to happen, you never know if a film is going to be successful or not, but I said, it's very rare for me to feel that way, and it's a very Terry Gilliam movie, and it's gonna be good forever, I think, it's gonna be a masterpiece anyway.
WHAT'S IT LIKE WORKING WITH TERRY (GILLIAM)?
BELLUCCI: Terry is an incredible director. He's a genius, crazy, talented baby. Full of imagination, and he knows what he wants at the same time, he discovers what he wants from actors while directing them. He is challenged by the unexpected, so you get to be really strong as an actor, because he needs imagination, and you have to come out with ideas yourself, so it's great for an actor to work with a director like that.
HIS SENSE OF HUMOR IS EVIDENT IN ALL MOVIES HE DOES, IS IT EVIDENT WHILE WORKING WITH HIM?
BELLUCCI: Yeah, because he's not obvious, that's what I like. Terry is not scared to go far, and it's insane, as you know, it can be dangerous to be that way, because not everybody can understand his sense of humor. It is not flat and simple, it is complicated and difficult. Your mind has to be open to understand it. And when I see the film, I said God, it's scary, it's really scary! I mean, children may not like it, you know, but it's for everybody. So it's just an intelligent movie. But it's not for everyone.
HOW OLD WILL YOUR DAUGHTER BE BEFORE SHE CAN SEE THIS MOVIE?
BELLUCCI: I don't know. She's ten months. Maybe when she's ten. Or not, you know, life is scary too, so I think that you have to get used to.
HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH HEATH AND MATT, ANY DIFFERENCES?
BELLUCCI: Oh yeah, I mean, I didn't know them, I mean I knew them just, you know, names and they were really generous and really nice. I loved to work with them, I think that they are just incredible performers, and in this one, performance is unusual, because it's not easy to play these characters, and they really did an incredible job and I would love to work with them again, they're very nice guys.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?
BELLUCCI: I'm gonna go back to Europe, I'm gonna make an Italian movie, about Napoleon. We've got a French actor to play Napoleon, the director's Italian, and then I'm going to make a French movie, with Daniel Auteuil and then come to America and make an American movie.
WHO'S YOUR CHARACTER IN THE NAPOLEON MOVIE?
BELLUCCI: I play a countess, so it's costumes, and I have to lose all my tan.
WHAT'S THE AMERICAN MOVIE?
BELLUCCI: I can't say. Because I didn't sign yet, but there's interest there.
DID YOU BASE YOUR CHARACTER IN THIS FILM ON ANY DISNEY CHARACTERS OR QUEENS?
BELLUCCI: I mean, it looks like a classic character. It's like the mean queen in 'Snow White,' the mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all, you know. At the same time, they're different. That's why what I said, I like that you have all those fairy tales together, to make a new story. And that's why I think that everything is very original.
WHAT'S MORE CHALLENGING, DOING REALITY ROLES OR FANTASY ROLES?
BELLUCCI: I have to say that I'm very lucky, because I'm Italian and I work with Italian directors, and French directors, great French directors, very talented, and then I come here, and I have the chance to work with talented directors too, and that was a lot, because I don't like to have one kind of movie, I've done great films like 'Irreversible,' and classic films like 'Malena,' and big blockbusters like 'The Matrix' or 'The Passion.' And that's so challenging. And also to play with all those different people, from different countries and different cultures, different languages, it's so incredible, because it becomes an experience not just as an actress but also as a human being, because you open your mind, it's incredible to work with all these different people.
HAVE YOU CHANGED THE TYPES OF ROLES YOU LOOK FOR NOW?
BELLUCCI: As a mother? No. I don't know, because I'm still crazy. I'm a mother, I love my daughter like nothing else in the world, it's just the most important thing in my life, and I have many friends who didn't have children, they're so happy like that, and they say I don't want to have children, so it's very personal. Just for me, was something that I needed to get through, because it was just the most beautiful thing that can happen to a woman, for me. I mean, to get pregnant, to give birth, to have a baby, it's just so amazing. And I'm so much more strong and much more happy and - it came just at the perfect moment of my life, I was ready for it. So now I'm more full. Then I also, I mean, as an actress, I'm still an actress, so if some crazy movie comes, then I'm ready for it, I'll do it, because it's not because now I'm a mother, I have to just play fairy tales, and be a good girl, and because my message that I have to send to my daughter is I am a good girl - no, no, I'm not a good girl. But I'm a good mother, yes.
DID YOU SHOOT YOUR SCENES IN PRAGUE?
BELLUCCI: Yes, all in Prague. Have you been to Prague? Prague is the most beautiful city, I mean it's one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and is the perfect place for this kind of movie, because it's very beautiful but very dark. Very mysterious and adventurous and the city has just an incredible history. There's a lot of suffering over there. It's just magic to be there. It's the perfect atmosphere for a film.
ARE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MOVING OVER HERE?
BELLUCCI: No. I live in Europe. I live between London, Rome, and Paris. And I come here just when I need to work, and I love to stay here. Just my life is there, all my friends are there, and my family is there. My new husband is French. But I love to come here, once in a while, it's so different, and so much is going on, and there's so much money, and they do so many different movies. This is what I like about America, because you have very big budget movie, and also independent movies, so you have many different choices. But I know that I'm European, it's amazing going to see the, to make European movies, and then, when I come here, I have to find the right script, the right character, and you know, I've been offered many things that I've turned down just because the part was just not interesting. Being European, it is not easy to find the right project, because you may look different, you sound different, and you have to find the right character.
YOU SAID YOU'RE WORKING WITH CATHERINE, SHE HAS SUCH AN INTERESTING PAST, HOW IS THAT?
BELLUCCI: Catherine Deneuve? Oh, I never met - I met her just twice, I haven't shot it yet. But I'm very happy to work with her, because she's just an incredible lady, with experience, and she's done these amazing movies, and she's in history. In the movie business.
WHAT ABOUT MATT DAMON'S APPEAL?
BELLUCCI: Matt Damon? And Heath Ledger? Just Matt? [laughs] I don't know Matt very well actually, we were together just on set, I mean, I loved him, he was easy to work with. And he's so funny because sometimes, we do a crazy business, because sometimes we need to get in an intimate situation with someone we don't know very well. So we have love scenes or kissing this kind of thing, with someone that you never met before. And so you have to deal with, but sometimes it's difficult, it's not easy to do those scenes with everybody, so you have to find someone that is - they have to be, it can create a nice situation, a good sensibility, and so with him it was easy, because he's sexy, beautiful, and he's a good actor.
DID YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH A LOT OF SPECIAL EFFECTS?
BELLUCCI: Yeah, I loved - yeah, but for me, I really didn't - it wasn't a problem for me, because I had just played as an actress, and then the special effects is always, they do it in post production, so that's why when I saw the movie I was shocked, because it's so different. You do things, but you don't realize what they're going to do, so my face completely destroyed, and it was so beautiful, it was like, my God! I was just screaming and playing and then so the end, you know, all those mirrors in pieces and I think it was just so fun. So it was surprising.
WAS THE HAIR PIECE HEAVY?
BELLUCCI: Yes. You know, when we do movie, you have to get into those kind of things, we have to deliver that, and also costumes are so important, because through the costumes you can get so faster into the character. When you have costumes like that, the character is already there, you have to just play.
WHAT AMERICAN DIRECTORS DO YOU WANT TO WORK WITH?
BELLUCCI: Oh there are so many, and many European directors, very full of names that I can give to you, but I won't give anything. [laughs]
WERE YOU STUNNED BY THE SUCCESS OF 'THE PASSION?'
BELLUCCI: When I did this movie, my agent told me, listen, it's gonna be just a small movie and nobody's gonna see it. At the same time I remember they asked me to be in a big blockbuster, and you know, I'm gonna do it, I want to play Mary Magdalene. And when I met Mel Gibson, I was so charmed, and in the end, when I saw the movie, of course there is all this controversial positions about the movie, and I understand, because it's a special movie. And really approached the subject, you know, all this happened, this kind of reaction, with the scene with the savior. But I think the cinema pushes violence, so the last day of Jesus is violent, so you're gonna put it in this film.
SO TERRY WAS A CRAZY BABY? HOW DID THAT WORK?
BELLUCCI: I mean, you have to be ready. When you come on set in the morning, and you think you're going to do something, or you prepared for something, and then you could change everything, because everything's gonna change, the way you wanted to play, I mean, how the scene is gonna be, and it's not just me as an actor, it's the same for producers and the same for everybody. They have to deal with that. But when you work with someone like him, I mean, everybody knows him and the way he works, they know he's like that. You know, I thought he was English, because his way is so European, so I didn't know that he was not.
SO YOU WOULD BE PREPARED, BUT HE WOULD SAY NO, NO?
BELLUCCI: No, no, see we were gonna do this, no, no, no, I don't want to do this anymore, so we're gonna go with this, it's gonna be like that, and then yeah, I like this scene to play there, well now do the opposite. It was the way he talked, but I loved working that way, because he's so, you learn so much, so when you come out from a film like that, you're much stronger as an actor.
THE BROTHERS GRIMM opens on August 26, 2005
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